Sweet Walla Walla Onion Rings with Basil Buttermilk Dip

sweet walla walla onion rings with basil buttermilk dip

Walla Walla, Vidalia, Maui, or any generic sweet onions will do for these epic Sweet Walla Walla Onion Rings with Basil Buttermilk Dip!

sweet walla walla onion rings

Last meal request? A huge pile of onion rings, no question.

And these sweet Walla Walla onion rings are the classics, the onion rings of your dreams. Thickly sliced, with that perfect ragged crunch on the outside, and a soft sweet bite on the inside. And you know what the strange thing is? They are crazy easy to make. In my experience it rarely happens like that, so take note and enjoy these. One onion makes enough to stuff 2 hungry people.

sweet walla walla onion rings with basil buttermilk dip

The sweet Walla Walla onion is Washington’s state veggie. They’re very proud of it, and rightly so. They are so good they’ve been given a special designation by the government which says that only onions grown in and around the Walla Walla Valley can be called Walla Walla onions. Only spectacular foods like Champagne, or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese get this kind of protection, and that usually happens in Europe where they’re a little bit more sophisticated about their food than we are. Here in America we’re just starting to pick up on the idea. It honors what is special about a particular food and protects it. These onions are mild, sweet, delicious, and make a darned great onion ring. I’m glad somebody’s got their back.

walla walla onions

The official season starts in early May so keep an eye out. Other sweet onions are Vidalia, and Maui, and you can also find generic sweet onions at your supermarket as well. My Sweet Vidalia Onion Strings are a must try, and I’ve even got a fabulous recipe for Maui Onion Rings that are baked, not fried, if you’re looking for something on the healthier side.

Sweet Walla Walla Onion Rings

I love to serve these sweet walla walla onion rings with a buttermilk based sauce. For one thing it helps use up the extra buttermilk, and makes a light refreshing dip for the rings. I love the contrast between the crisp fried onions and the cool tangy sauce. You can flavor it anyway you like, if I’m feeling lazy I’ll just add salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon. Today I blended in fresh basil and it was wonderfully fresh and light.

crispy sweet Walla Walla onion rings

TIP: Lots of people have the mistaken impression that buttermilk is full of fat and not healthy, when in fact the opposite is true. Buttermilk is technically the liquid leftover after making butter, so it’s very low in fat. Most of what you buy in the supermarket is cultured with probiotics, sort of like yogurt, so it is healthy and has a nice tangy taste. Some people drink it straight but I mostly use it for cooking and baking. It’s one of my pantry staples.

Sweet Walla Walla Onion rings with Basil Buttermilk dip

Plan on one onion for every two people, and be sure to work in batches because the coating mixture will become soggy after dunking the wet rings. Make separate batches of the coating rather than doubling the recipe. I really believe onion rings are among the most foolproof of recipes. The main problem you’ll encounter is not getting your oil up to temperature. A clip on thermometer is a good investment. My rule of thumb is that the rings should fry up to golden in about 2 minutes or a little under. Any longer and the oil isn’t hot enough. Any shorter and it’s too hot.

Sweet and crispy Walla Walla Onion Rings

…omg I’m just putty in the hands of a great onion ring…

Sweet Walla Walla Onion rings with Basil Buttermilk dip
3.16 from 13 votes

Sweet Walla Walla Onion Rings

Walla Walla, Vidalia, Maui, or any generic sweet onions will do for these epic Sweet Walla Walla Onion Rings with Basil Buttermilk Dip!
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Author Sue Moran


  • 1 Walla Walla Onion
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp onion salt
  • vegetable oil for frying

Basil Buttermilk Dip

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • handful of fresh basil leaves
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Peel the onions and slice them thickly, about 1/2 inch. Gently separate the slices into rings, and don't discard the little center pieces.
  • Pour the buttermilk into a large bowl and add the onions. Stir to coat.
  • Pour oil to a depth of several inches into a pan. I used about a quart of oil Heat to 350F.
  • In a large zip lock baggie, put the flour, breadcrumbs, and onion salt, and mix well.
  • When the oil is hot, drop a few of the onion rings into the baggie and toss to coat well.
  • Add the onion rings to the hot oil and fry until golden, about 2 minutes, flipping once or twice. Work in small batches so you don't crowd the pan.
  • Drain on paper towels, and serve hot with dip.
  • To make the dip, put the buttermilk in a small food processor or blender, and add the basil leaves and lemon juice. Process just until the basil is well incorporated. Add the seasonings to taste.

notes and variations

If you want to serve more, make a separate batch of the coating, as it will get a bit lumpy and soggy after a while. You won't need to double the buttermilk, however.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.


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  • Reply
    plasterers bristol
    June 9, 2015 at 5:19 am

    Hmm these look delicious, thanks for posting up this recipe, looks quite simple to make.


  • Reply
    May 9, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    Hey Sue….I live in Walla Walla and you’re so right – our onions make the best ever onion rings!! We eat ours with Sriracha Aioli!

  • Reply
    Jules @ WolfItDown
    May 3, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    These look perfect! ๐Ÿ˜€ Some mayo and sweet chilli sauce for dipping and ALL is well ๐Ÿ™‚ Such a good snack/meal… cause you know you can’t just have a couple of these ^ ^ Thanks for the recipe! x

  • Reply
    April 23, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    These look amazing, Sue! Next time we grill a steak I am definitely going to make these too. I rarely see Walla Walla onions here but I know I can find Vidalia or Maui. Can’t wait to try them – I know my husband would be thrilled.

  • Reply
    April 23, 2015 at 8:01 am

    i’m pretty picky about onion rings, but these look outstanding! pretty terrific dip, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    April 23, 2015 at 2:21 am

    If it was me, there wouldn’t have even been a photo shoot. Maybe the second batch, but then again, maybe not… Fabulous!

  • Reply
    [email protected]+This+is+How+I+Cook
    April 22, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    My mouth is watering! I really think one onion would be just for me! Buttermilk is one of my staples, too!

  • Reply
    Thao @ In Good Flavor
    April 22, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    These onion rings look DELICIOUS with just the right amount of crispy batter on the outside and sweet, tender onions on the inside! This is such a great recipe, Sue!

  • Reply
    [email protected]+Riffs
    April 22, 2015 at 9:27 am

    Onion rings are awesome, aren’t they? This is normally a restaurant thing for me — not something I indulge in too often. But these look terrific! Must. Make. Them. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for this.

  • Reply
    April 22, 2015 at 8:15 am

    The onion riings look yummy. I don’t deep fry often, but will have to make an exception for these. Any suggestions on what to do with the leftover oil?

  • Reply
    April 22, 2015 at 4:12 am

    Sue, your Onion Rings looks absolutely scrumptious and the Basil-Buttermilk Dressing sounds like the perfect pairing for them – what a great treat to make for yourself, family and friends – while we do not get the Walla Walla Sweet Onions around these parts, I always make sure to choose some sweet Spanish onions when I make onion rings – I should really make some again soon!
    Thanks for the wonderful inspiration, great pictures and fabulous recipe!

  • Reply
    April 21, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    These look like absolutely perfect onion rings, especially paired with that dip!

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    April 21, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    These onion rings look killer, so golden and crisp! Love the basil buttermilk dip!

  • Reply
    Vicki Bensinger
    April 21, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    I love a good batch of onion rings and these look perfect and sound heavenly. I can’t wait to try that basil dip with them. Nice recipe.

  • Reply
    Susan L.
    April 21, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    I’ll try this recipe soon ~ looks and sounds delicious! You share so many great recipes. Thanks!

  • Reply
    April 21, 2015 at 11:41 am

    These look so perfect.
    I’ve never thought to use a creamy cool dipping sauce, and now I wonder what I’ve ben missing.

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    April 21, 2015 at 10:47 am

    I have always wanted to make onion rings at home. Yours look perfect, so I’m definitely going to give it a go. Love sweet onions, too!!

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s+Recipes
    April 21, 2015 at 10:02 am

    They look so CRISP!

  • Reply
    Toni | BoulderLocavore
    April 21, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Heck Girl, now I have a mean craving for these that nothing in my current kitchen will satisfy! So delicious!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    April 21, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Oh my – I don’t know how you managed to get photos before devouring this beautiful stack of onion rings! I love the Walla Walla sweet onions (my oldest brother got married in Walla Walla) but since we lived on the Georgia/Tennessee line for years, I am partial to Vidalia. Seriously I don’t care what kind of onion you use if you make these for me – with the dip of course! Beautiful!!!

    • Reply
      April 21, 2015 at 8:42 am

      I bet every restaurant in Walla Walla serves up amazing onion dishes, I want to visit!

    • Reply
      April 21, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      This was one of those recipes where I cut the photo session short…

  • Reply
    April 21, 2015 at 8:26 am

    I think I saw these at the market this morning but not sure. I had no idea about them but I’m so glad to know now so thank you! I will most certainly find them and cook with them now. And your onion rings – they look perfectly fried and crave-inducing. I’m with you on buttermilk – so great to cook and bake with and I was amazed when I first realized it’s lower in fat than milk.

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